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Demetrious Johnson: Everything He’s Got, He’s Earned

The first ever UFC Flyweight Champion is just days away from being crowned at UFC 152 in Toronto, Canada on September 22nd. Early Thursday morning, one of the challengers aiming to win the strap spoke with Heidi Fang of MMA Fight Corner and shared the path he’s taken to get there, which wasn’t the easy road at all.

Regardless of his struggles, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson will no doubt make the most of his opportunity. As he’s done throughout everything in life, he plans to wage his way through adversity and find himself on top, no matter what.

The UFC initially booked the flyweight title fight as the main event for UFC 152, but when UFC 151 was cancelled, Jon Jones vs Vitor Belfort became the new main event of the card. The flyweights were shifted to the co-main event, but Johnson said he had no issues with the move and thinks it’ll only benefit the new division. “It’s alright. Jon Jones and Vitor Belfort, they’re gonna put on a great fight. Toronto gets two title fights now, it just brings more icing to the cake. We have the inaugural flyweight division to be crowned the first flyweight champion and now we have Jon Jones and Vitor Belfort on there and it’s just going to bring a more exciting card.”

With the addition of the new weight class to the UFC, Johnson feels it’s the best thing for him as a fighter. “It gives me a chance to prolong my career. It just gives me a different weight class to compete with the best in the world.”¬†Demetrious added fighting Ian McCall twice to get to fight Benavidez, wasn’t at all a disadvantage to him either. He feels it gave him more experience, more time to prepare and the chance to stay on target for making weight.

Johnson also credited his head coach, Matt “The Wizard” Hume, for helping him develop in the sport. “He’s always teaching me new stuff and I’m always learning about this sport. There’s a part of me that loves to compete and I love to make money and all that stuff. And then there’s a part of me that just wants to learn, because when I first started this, it was just a hobby for me.”

Now that Demetrious has almost reached the culmination of the flyweight mini-tournament that’s taken nearly six months to complete, he said having a hectic road to get there, getting married in the process and overcoming an injury also, only psyches him out more for his upcoming opportunity.¬†“It’s just hard work. For me I like to have a lot of stress on myself, because it feels like a challenge and I’m going to do a challenge. With the wedding, working, and this is my hobby, and making this a full time job, it’s all just challenges in life that I’m trying to get through and I’d rather have it like that than having it all handed to me.”

The hardships of being a young couple, on their own, working full time and trying to pursue dreams has not just humbled Demetrious, it’s also been his driving force through it all. “Usually you go off to college and get great educations, but sometimes we don’t have that family backing where our families are going to pay for our college tuition. We weren’t handed it with a silver spoon and platter in our mouth. We had to work our way through life. Our whole wedding, we paid for it. Everything that we’ve gone through in our life, everything that I have, I paid for in my life.”

“When I first started fighting, I was working full time and then, when your only making 3 and 3 to fight, $6000 doesn’t cover nothing. $3000 dollars that gets you maybe 3 months of rent. It was still a hobby because I still had to work,” Demetrious said to explain why he described MMA as a ‘hobby’ for him. “As you put your time in, you kind of move up the pay scale and at that point my aunt told me maybe it’s time you quit your job. And I quit my job and now I’m just fighting full time.”

Joseph Benavidez won’t be easy to get past and he’s never been knocked out. However, Johnson currently holds the UFC record for takedown accuracy, averaging four takedowns over three rounds. Johnson broke down how he’ll take on the challenge of fighting Benavidez, a very evenly matched opponent when it comes to skill sets. “I think just being sharp and mentally focused, and being elusive like I always am, and keep my accurate striking up. I don’t like to throw wild bombs and leave myself open for a counter attack. I like to be a sniper, pinpoint, land my shots on the chin. I think the more times I get comfortable in there, I think you’re just going to see a better Mighty Mouse every single time. It takes time to get comfortable in there,” Johnson said. “Once I get more comfortable in there, I think you’ll see a whole new arsenal of Mighty Mouse and I feel that I’m starting to get more comfortable, so we’ll see come Saturday night.”

Benavidez currently holds a 16-2 record and Mighty Mouse boasts a 15-2 record with one draw in MMA. Despite the low numbers in the loss column, both share one common opponent they couldn’t get past to earn their first titles – Dominick Cruz. Benavidez faced him twice and lost to him both times in the WEC. Once was for the bantamweight title with the now defunct promotion. Demetrious faced him once in the UFC and fell short against Cruz for the bantamweight title. Demetrious said what made Dominick so difficult to get past.

“With Dominick Cruz he was very, he was almost like me, he’s very elusive, he has great feints, great footwork and he’s very accurate in his strikes. He throws a lot of strikes that don’t mean to do anything, but he’s pretty accurate. Dominick, he was just a big dude. I remember times like when he was holding me down, I was like dude you’re holding me down and you’re still standing on your feet. And I was like dude, what the hell is that all about? Dominick is just a big dude. He’s 5’9′ and that’s six inches taller than me, so I had a little struggle. He was just a bigger dude. And he told me after we fought he told me I just had to use my size on you and it seemed to work out. And I was like ‘Screw you man, screw you!'”

Well, times are changing, and it’s time for one of the two to shine. Both have told MMA Fight Corner that they hold no animosity towards each other. They even went to a Coldplay concert together at the Air Canada Centre where they’ll throw down Saturday night. No matter who wins, I’m thinking this fight has Fight of the Night written all over it.